Friday, September 25, 2020

Burrowing Owls Meeting

Coastal Breeze really does a great job covering burrowing owl news. There is an upcoming stakeholders meeting which is open to the public, but I was told by Ricardo Zambrano of the FWC that property owners would not get much opportunity to provide input at this meeting. The FWC definition for stakeholders is realtors, builders and landscapers.

Save the Date: FWC Burrowing Owl Stakeholders Meeting is scheduled for August 1 at 9 AM in the Community Meeting Room. The objective is to gather input to inform FWC staff on specific aspects of the development of Species Conservation Measures and Permitting Guidelines for the Florida Burrowing Owl.

I was very curious as to why FWC chose June 15th when 2/3 of the property owners are gone, rather than January-March to have the meeting. This is the answer I got from Craig Faulhaber of the FWC.

“Thank you for your feedback about our June 15th meeting and for your interest in wildlife in Marco Island. I apologize that we were not able to hold the meeting in January through March to maximize engagement with residents. The listing status of the burrowing owl changed in January, and our staff were busy setting up an interim permitting process and helping permit applicants adjust to the changes in listing status and protections for the species. These efforts meant that we had insufficient staff time to hold the open house meetings earlier in the year. Out-of-state residents can still provide comments by emailing imperiled@myfwc.com with “burrowing owl” in the subject line. Also, there will be additional opportunities for residents to provide input during our public comment period, which will likely occur in August and September once we have produced a draft of the document. Our website will be updated periodically with information on the public comment period.”

I have spoken to several people who attended the meeting and they all said the open house format of the meeting wasn’t what they were expecting. While I attended the event, there were more FWC employees than actual Marco residents. Perhaps, FWC could have spared 1 or 2 people to give a PPT presentation with questions and answers afterward during winter, than provide a busload of FWC employees to talk to virtually no one in summer.

Ti Tepper Chokoloskee

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